Hit hard by declining membership, the 170-year-old Indianapolis Medical Society is moving out of its downtown rental space and auctioning off a collection of artifacts, historical documents and artwork.
“We are at a transition phase,” said Dr. Mary Ian McAteer, an Indianapolis pediatrician and president of the society.
Membership today stands at about 900 active physicians, down from about 2,200 in the 1990s. Much of the decline is due to the shrinking base of independent physicians, as more and more doctors become employed by hospitals.
The society serves as an advocate for physicians in personal wellness, business relationships and community outreach. It also provides referrals to physicians from Indianapolis patients looking for a doctor.
An online auction began Monday and runs through 9 p.m. Friday. Interested bidders can see photos of the items and place their bids at http://www.flipsideestates.com/portfolio
Items up for auction include a 1910 Waltham Gothic revival grandfather hall clock, a portrait of physician Theophilus Parvin painted by Hoosier artist T.C. Steele, Indiana hospital prints by K.P. Singh, a society logo seal press, historic medical treatment books, and documents from the early days of the society.
“We have some really cool things we’ve accumulated over 170 years,” McAteer said. “We can’t afford the space to store them, and they’re not really relevant to our mission.”
Some of the items were donated to the society a century ago by the estate of Louis H. Levey, which also donated his mansion at 2902 N. Meridian St. The society used the mansion as its home from the 1950s to the 1970s before selling it.
For more than a decade, the society has been based at 631 E. New York St., a one-story art deco building. The society sold the building in 2007 and has rented space in it from the owner, McAteer said, but is now planning to move out of the building altogether and set up shop as a virtual society, without bricks and mortar space.
The society, formed in 1848, had once planned to use the downtown building as a conference facility and event center, but has scrapped those plans for financial reasons, McAteer said.
The society had revenue of $548,304 and expenses of $543,175 in 2016, according to its Form 990 filing. Net assets were $1.03 million.
The society, which once had a staff of five, has hired an outside management firm, the Corydon Group, to manage its affairs.
Despite the big changes, McAteer said the society has no plans to fold up shop.
“We are not dissolving,” she said. “We are trying to save our society.”